FIREBALL METEOR: Was it a spaceship? Was it a plane bursting into flames...? Those were the questions on everyone's lips when a spectacular fireball streaked across the black skies of Tynedale. Starting off diamond white, its colours changed from green and bright white to yellow and finally a deep orange. The object was so bright it hurt the eyes to look at directly, and it cast shadows on the ground.

GUEST OF HONOUR: For the first time in more than half a century, Red Cross stalwart Mary Robinson was not acting as first aider at Hexham Racecourse. Instead, she was guest of honour at the track's first meeting of the year. To mark her being awarded an MBE in that year's Queen's Birthday Honours for more than 50 years' service to the Red Cross, directors at the course named a feature race in her honour.

TIMELY REPAIR: A £7,000 project to get Haltwhistle's iconic Carnival Clock ticking again was given a jump start - for just 25p! All that was required was a single bog-standard fuse from a pack of four, priced at £1, to ensure that the clock told the right time for the first time in many years.


LOSS OF UNIT: It now looked certain that Hexham General Hospital would lose its "jewel in the crown" - the spinal injuries unit, the Hexham Courant reported. After months of uncertainty health chiefs announced that the new service is likely to be provided either by the RVI Trust in Newcastle or by South Tees Acute Hospitals Trust in Middlesbrough.

HOPES DASHED: Haydon Bridge High School's bid to open a £2.5 million sports college fell at the second hurdle. The school was told it was unsuccessful in its bid to the Government for official sports college status.


COMMUTER UPSURGE: Housing was reported to be at it scarcest for 20 years in Tynedale due to a dramatic upsurge in the number of commuters moving into the district.

BEAUTIFUL MOVE: Moves were afoot to have the Allen Valley designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

FRUITY FIRST: For the first time in its 30-year history, the Retail Fruit Trade Association's Newcastle area branch met at Hexham.


SNOW MAKES COMEBACK: Snowdrifts up to 16ft deep were cleared from roads leading to the West Allen Valley villages of Ninebanks and Carrshield, which had been cut off by snow on and off for the best part of the previous seven weeks, but within days further snow arrived and blocked the affected roads once more. In Hexham too matters went from bad to worse as what was reported to be the worst snowfall in living memory rendered all routes out of the town impassable, but for the A69 which was negotiable westwards as far as Greenhead. Bulldozers, however, were able to re-establish links with Blanchland, cut off for the preceding five weeks.

BOBBY BOWS OUT: Blanchland village bobby J. Alexander retired after 35 years in the force.


WATER ON WAY: The Capheaton estate, then owned by Hubert Swinburne, was connected up to a water supply from a nearby service reservoir.

LAST IN LINE: Anne Jane Allgood, the last of the Hexham branch of a county family whose main line lives on at Simonburn, died, aged 93.


NO LAUGHING MATTER: A prankster posing as a sports correspondent who sent the Hexham Courant a bogus match report involving an imaginary Newcastle team called the 'Stiff 'Uns' and which included scandalous references to various respectable local tradesmen was criticised by the unimpressed newspaper for being unsportsmanlike and doing the game a disservice.

ORGAN ARRIVES: The Methodist church at Garrigill, near Alston, took delivery of a new £117 organ.

HOMELESS MAN DIES: Bellingham homeless man John Nicholson, nicknamed "The Plant", died, aged 67. His obituarist wrote: "Having most unfortunately acquired a love for liquor at an early age, and consequently a dislike for labour, he blossomed out into a tramping itinerant of the first rank."